Does it not balance out?

jwehl

Songster
Nov 3, 2020
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Atlanta GA
Just this morning a hen I didn’t know was setting came out of hiding with a new clutch of bitties. Some clutches will have a near 100% survival rate, others will have a near 100% loss rate, depending on lots of factors. Once you get a breeding population established of a survival oriented breed, you sit back and let them do the rest.
You can help this along some by locking up hens with chicks. I usually keep them locked up until 4 months when I switch them off chick starter (or earlier if I need the baby pen for a newer clutch), but any amount of time is helpful. Not required obviously, but mine are by the house and finding dead chicks is just ehhh when I could avoid it.
 

U_Stormcrow

Songster
Jun 7, 2020
702
1,271
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North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
There are definitely regional differences in price, which will affect the break even point. My own neck of nowhere is full of people on large properties living below the poverty line. A dozen free range eggs nets $2. Whole chicken breast is $1/lb at the store (granted, it looks like two apes butchered it bare fisted, but...) while whole birds can be obtained on special at $.49 per pound. Free Range and "organic" (not that anyone could possibly afford official certification) carry no premium, people just want to put food on the table.

I've done everything I reasonably can to get my prices down, and now buy bulk feed from the same mill producing food for the local businesses (Tyson Foods, Wayne Farms, LLC, Kock, Pilgrim's Pride...) Its so tough I can drive by at least a dozen failed commercial operations within 30 miles of me - huge quonset huts with their fans for raising thousands of chickens at once, now falling to rot.

I pay a premium out of my entertainment budget to maintain my birds, and as insurance against future shortages. Nothing more than that.

Based on the situation you've described, there's no way you are breaking even, and those breeds are more valuable to most as pets than as layers. I'd look to rehome them, and recoup what losses you can with a low price sale.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
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California's Redwood Coast
I would not add the sunflower seeds. They are probably waiting around for those playing chicken jet eye mind tricks on you.
This is something I need to touch on as well.. Sunflower seed are a high fat high reward item.. they figured out where it's coming from but not that it's being flung.. At my place.. the only high fat or high protein rewards they get.. are from bugs they find themselves..

that almost worked out... I have A LOT of roosters now.
It's still working itself out.. you just have to eat the extra roosters, use them for pet food, fertilizer, etc. ;)

However, many 'home raised' birds might have been treated with meds that are not approved for poultry, something that's not going to happen in a commercial flock. Look at many of the threads in 'Emergencies' here for examples.
Uhg, such a valid point.. I hadn't previously considered.. :eek:

in Hawaii @ $20-$24 a 50lb bag
Not that bad for starter or flock raiser, a bit high if layer..

I pay a premium out of my entertainment budget to maintain my birds
Same.

Wow, Quonset huts for chickens.. in the US! I'm so sheltered, I guess. :oops:
 

Florida Bullfrog

Songster
May 14, 2019
387
758
167
North Florida
You can help this along some by locking up hens with chicks. I usually keep them locked up until 4 months when I switch them off chick starter (or earlier if I need the baby pen for a newer clutch), but any amount of time is helpful. Not required obviously, but mine are by the house and finding dead chicks is just ehhh when I could avoid it.
Sometimes I’ll lock a hen in a coop with her bitties for a week or so, but I have so many that now I usually just let nature take its course. I want the toughest of the tough to survive. Dead chicks that die for reasons other than predation are usually quickly eaten by the flock. Some of the bigger birds will swallow dead chicks whole. Just yesterday I lost 45 nearly developed eggs. I was testing an incubator a family member was having a problem with. She sent it to me and I loaded it up with 60 eggs. 45 made it past week 2, then the heating element died and I lost them all over night. So the flock feasted yesterday on nearly developed chicks. I watched a couple of my larger game cocks swallow them like lizards.

If the hawk makes a kill, its hard to find remains because the chickens will eat what’s left.
 

Dephora

Chirping
Apr 30, 2020
183
183
70
Southern Oregon
So, what I am hearing you say is that you aren't sure chickens are worth it. You aren't selling the eggs and just want to be a little more self sustainable. You have already gotten alot of great advice, especially about the breed of chickens, silkies just won't do, they are just very dumb sweet birds. For sure factored into your large losses to predators. You need birds that are just more "street smart". Which may be something you have to breed your flock for and wont be something you will be able to buy.

Your feed setup also is another issue, funny enough a well fed bird that KNOWS where the food is at all times is more likely to roam around. I have found that it is when birds are in "survival brain" that all they can think about is the feeder and waiting for it to turn on. Setting up a simple low waste feeder like the kind mentioned earlier in this thread would probably save you more money in the long run than your "spray" feeders.

I am sure you have done this already, done the math that is. But I have found that budgeting on an excel or budget book can really help you with your "expectations". How much are you willing to spend on food etc? Once you know how much you WANT to spend, simple math can tell you how many chickens you should have. I would dump the breeds you have and get a better foraging and egg production bird as well to boost your yield. There are also other tricks you can do to save money, start composting near the coop, the birds love to forage in it and it will attract many bugs. Make sure if they are near a field that your cover crop is something nutritious, clover and alfalfa work well.
 

jwehl

Songster
Nov 3, 2020
825
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140
Atlanta GA
However, many 'home raised' birds might have been treated with meds that are not approved for poultry, something that's not going to happen in a commercial flock. Look at many of the threads in 'Emergencies' here for examples.
I am AMAZED that someone who bought my birds to eat asked me 0 questions about medications.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
13,734
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California's Redwood Coast
I am AMAZED that someone who bought my birds to eat asked me 0 questions about medications.
Well when you put it like that.. I have totally taken cockerels to help out a community member and also not asked questions.. I didn't know all this brain melting stuff! :smack

Somehow.. we lived. :)

Okay, but MAYBE never again.. at least never as uninformed again for sure.:thumbsup
 

jwehl

Songster
Nov 3, 2020
825
1,411
140
Atlanta GA
Well when you put it like that.. I have totally taken cockerels to help out a community member and also not asked questions.. I didn't know all this brain melting stuff! :smack

Somehow.. we lived. :)

Okay, but MAYBE never again.. at least never as uninformed again for sure.:thumbsup
He claimed they weren't eating them - but got 20 roosters and 0 hens "as pets". I told him I'd have more in a couple months and he said hed contact me then. lol. This time I had just given them dewormer which is a 14 day meat withdrawal period & asked if hed prefer to get back to me in 14 days. He said yes. :lol:

I totally dont care, but hes clearly dealt with some people who arent okay with it.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
13,734
18,325
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California's Redwood Coast
He claimed they weren't eating them - but got 20 roosters and 0 hens "as pets".
Well, in that case.. cock fighting would be suspect and I'd a said no thank you..

Unless I felt they were just trying to put me at ease and were indeed going to feed their family and I hadn't specifically stated NO eating.. Some folks even say "just don't tell" them.. they are okay with it but don't want to know about or contemplate it.. Which seems to be the route you think was taking place. And honestly.. all birds here are raised and treated like pet chickens.. enjoying every day and having one bad moment that's over before they realize or can think about what just happened to them. I prefer honesty and any shadiness is a flat deal breaker for me.. but I would also communicate that and realize that we, including whoever took your boys are almost always doing our best to survive. :thumbsup

Although many back yard keepers worry about our fluffy boys being used as bait cocks.. it's really not that likely.. game fowler's are often hard core about what they do and our boys are not worthwhile. Not saying it doesn't happen.. know you're area, be informed, and make YOUR best call according to your expectations.
 

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